Rickie Ramdass

 Rickie Ramdass

THE Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development recently rolled out the first series of a roadshow entitled “Maternity Matters at Work”.

The first three activities took place earlier this month in Port of Spain, Point Fortin and Chaguanas, with an aim of educating and informing pregnant employees of their rights in the workplace and the obligations of their employers.

At those events, Minister of Labour Jennifer Baptiste-Primus said she believed it was important to ensure that everyone was aware of their rights and responsibilities and, in particular, both employee and employer must understand maternity rights and responsibilities.

In this week’s Know Your Rights column, we will take the time out to inform those who may have missed or were unable to attend any of the past three events. It should be noted that the next event will take place on March 13, at Harris Promenade, San Fernando.

The following information was provided by the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development.

Benefits of a pregnant employee.

A pregnant worker who is employed continuously with the same employer for a period of 12 months and more is entitled to:

* 14 weeks maternity leave.

* One month full pay and two months half-pay by her employer.

The pregnant employee also has the benefit of:

* Reasonable time-off for clinic/doctor appointments for pre-natal care.

* Resuming work after such leave on terms no less favourable than enjoyed immediately prior to the employee proceeding on leave.

* Maternity leave six weeks prior to her expected date of confinement or at a subsequent date at her discretion, once she is medically fit for work.

To apply for maternity leave a pregnant employee must:

* Inform her employer in writing no later than eight weeks before her expected date of delivery.

* Submit a medical certificate from a qualified person stating her probable date of confinement.

* Inform her employer, in writing, of her intended date of return from maternity leave.

Responsibilities of the Employer

* Payment of employee NIS contributions to the National Insurance Board (NIB).

* Provide reasonable time-off with pay to the pregnant employee to receive pre-natal medical care.

* Grant the employee leave of absence for the purpose of maternity leave whether the child is premature or dies at birth, once the pregnancy is more than 26 weeks or dies within the period of leave.

* Pay while on maternity leave once the employee has worked for 12 consecutive months at his/her organization.

* Allow the employee to resume work following maternity leave on terms no less favourable than were enjoyed by her immediately prior to her leave.

* Keep and maintain records to show whether the provisions of the Maternity Protection Act are being complied with.

More Facts About Maternity At Work

Who can access maternity benefits?

*All pregnant workers employed in the private or public sector can access maternity benefits.

If a pregnant employee has worked for less than 12 months, does she have any benefits?

*Yes, she is entitled to 14 weeks maternity leave without pay and time-off to attend clinic visits.

Are public holidays and weekends counted when checking maternity leave?

*Yes, maternity leave is calculated as 14 weeks straight from the date that the working mom proceeds on leave which will include public holidays and weekends.

Can an employee extend her maternity leave?

An employee may extend her absence from work for one of the following reasons:

a. Medical Reason: An employee can extend her leave for a period no more than 12 weeks. In this case, the employer is obligated to pay the employee half-pay for the first six weeks and no-pay for the next six weeks.

b. Non-Medical Reason: An employee can extend her leave for a period of no more than four weeks. In this case, the employer is not obligated to pay the employee for this period.

It is your right to know your rights.

Continue to look out for valuable information in our Know Your Rights column every Monday. Be informed.

Got a question you want answered? Send an e-mail to rickie.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

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